Avalokiteshvara

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Avalokiteshvara (devanāgarī: अवलोकितेश्वर Avalokiteśvara) is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Portrayed in different cultures as either male or female, Avalokiteśvara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism.

The term is composed by the verbal prefix ava, which means "down"; lokita, a past participle of the verb lok ("to notice, observe") meaning "seen, observed"; and finally īśvara, "lord". The usual translation is the "Lord who looks down" where the use of the verb in an active sense ("to look" instead of "to be seen") is explained as an occasional irregularity of Sanskrit grammar.

In Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan, Avalokiteśvara is known as Chenrezig, and the Dalai Lama is regarded as an emanation of him.

In Chinese Buddhism

The Chinese translation for the Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara is Guānshìyīn (Kwan-Shi-Yin), although the term Avalokita-svara is also used and translated as Guānyīn (or Kwan-Yin).

According to Mme. Blavatsky

Mame. Blavatsky maintained that Guānyīn and Guānshìyīn were two different deities:

Kwan-Shai-Yin is identical with, and an equivalent of the Sanskrit Avalokitêshvara, and as such he is an androgynous deity, like the Tetragrammaton and all the Logoi of antiquity. It is only by some sects in China that he is anthropomorphized and represented with female attributes, when, under his female aspect, he becomes Kwan-Yin, the goddess of mercy, called the "Divine Voice".[1]

For more information see Kwan-Yin.

In Theosophy

Master K.H. rejected Mr. Rhys Davids' translation of the term as "the Lord who looks down from on high", but explained that the real meaning is the reversed one:

Avalokita Isvar literally interpreted means "the Lord that is seen." "Iswara" implying moreover, rather the adjective than the noun, lordly, self-existent lordliness, not Lord.[2]

Then, he proceeded to interpret this meaning in Theosophical terms:

It is, when correctly interpreted, in one sense "the divine Self perceived or seen by Self," the Atman or 7th principle ridded of its mayavic distinction from its Universal Source — which becomes the object of perception for, and by the individuality centred in Buddhi, the 6th principle, — something that happens only in the highest state of Samadhi. This is applying it to the microcosm. In the other sense Avalokitesvara implies the 7th Universal Principle, as the object perceived by the Universal Buddhi "Mind" or Intelligence which is the synthetic aggregation of all the Dhyan Chohans, as of all other intelligences whether great or small, that ever were, are, or will be.[3]
Avalokitesvara is both the unmanifested Father & the manifested Son, the latter proceeding from, and identical with, the other; — namely, the Parabrahm and Jivatman, the Universal and the individualized 7th Principle, — the Passive and the Active, the latter the Word, Logos, the Verb.[4]
Some years later, H. P. Blavatsky publishes this passage with some differences, replacing the general term "Dhyan Chohans" by the more specific of "Dhyani-Buddhas".[5] Essentially, she defined Avalokiteśvara in similar terms:
Avalôkitêswara is the great Logos in its higher aspect and in the divine regions. But in the manifested planes, he is, like Daksha, the progenitor (in a spiritual sense) of men.[6]
Kwan-Shi-Yin is Avalokiteshwara, and both are forms of the seventh Universal Principle; while in its highest metaphysical character this deity is the synthetic aggregation of all the planetary Spirits, Dhyani Chohans. He is the “Self-manifested;” in short, the "Son of the Father".[7]
Parabrahman or Adi-Buddha is eternally manifesting itself as Jivatma (7th principle) or Avalokiteswara.[8]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 72.
  2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 111 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 376.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 111 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 376.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 111 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 377.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 472.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 178.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 471.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 179.